Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Hants & West Sussex Visit

From last night's traditional Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Thick, Thick Bisto Gravy dinner, from left Paul, Tess, Moi and Ille (for those who have asked it's pronounced E-la).

We continue our stay with dear friends Paul and Terry Lifton in Emsworth, Hants having to make a complete change of plans. To be kind, the weather of late has not been good but this morning it was appalling scotching any ideas of birdwatching on Farlington Marsh and Pagham Lagoon. So, braving the elements, a cold north west wind and persistant rain, we decided on a visit to Chichester and Bosham (West Sussex) plus a look around the village.


The old Guildhall built during the reign of King George II (1683 - 1760)

Chichester Cathedral

The Naive & Quire. During this part of the tour I could air my knowledge of the origin of the expression 'the weak to the wall'. As part of the construction on most British cathedrals a stone 'step' was built around the inside perimeter of the building. In those days, seating of any kind was unheard of the congregation en-mass having to stand in the Naive for all services. This was 'all' except for the infirm who would use the 'step' as a seat. Hence 'the weak go to the wall'.

South Transept Window dating from the early 14th century, contains glass from Lorraine. It is also of note that the remains of English composer Gustav Theodore Holst 1874-1934 (The Planets Suite) lie close to and opposite this window.

Part of the Cloister.

Chichester Cross - built by and during the office of Edward Story as Bishop of the City between 1477 and 1503. Little more is known of the origin of the building.

With the rain persisting, we agreed on a visit to the 'West Cornwall Pasty Co' for a coffee and Oggy, where the lady proprietor was interested in my knowledge of this ancient fare. On my first Royal Navy ship HMS Keppel the crew were predominantly from the West Country, with ships comedian 'Lotty' Voss starting up an onboard society aptly named 'The Bodmin Moor Pasty Club'. Probably seeming futile to those who have not spend long, dreary periods at sea, we all gained great strength from this as we would meet each Sunday, not in a religious way, but to sing hymns (and other no so reverent songs) to while away a hour or two. On one occasion, Lotty's mum had sent him a huge Tiddy Oggy through the post, which arrived in many pieces. Distraught that a near relative had ended its days in such a way, he gently reassembled it, built a small coffin then mustered all club members for a Naval burial at sea, with full military honours. Oh what fun we had???? Anyroadup, as we left the cafe, after a good deal of banter with the afore mentioned owner, I volunteered to sing a short snatch of the Oggy Song bringing her to uncontrollable fits of laughter. She then gave me the link to her web-site insisting that I send her the lyrics, which of course I will do. Many will be familiar with the Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi refrain of the chorus, and think that it was composed by some rugby fanatic, but let me tell you, you need to look to the West Country and the Royal Navy for the origins!

Bosham only just in West Sussex is noted for the attempts of King Canute to hold back the waves. Believing he was this almighty powerful his servants were charged with taking his throne to the sea-shore at Bosham where he would demonstrate to one and all that at his command the tide would retreat. Henceforth he was known as 'The King who got his Feet Wet'.

Bosham church, built about the time of the Conquest (1066) on the site of an old Saxon church and visited by the Venerable Bede (translator of the Bible into English) in AD681.

Ille beneath the Norman Arch

High Tide at the end of Bosham High Street

and finally:-
The Oggy Song

The unofficial Anthem of the Royal Navy and
the Battle Cry of the Devonport Field Gun Crew
(please, please don't argue with them as they make the average rugby 15 look like Girl Guides)

Half a pound of flour and marg makes lovely clacker (pastry)
Just enough for you and us ah bugger Janner (a West Countryman)
Oh how happy us will be when we gets to the West Country
where the Oggies grow on trees
Gor bugger Janner

You make fast kiss my ass make fast the dingy
We'll make fast kiss my ass make fast the dingy
and we'll all go back to Oggyland
to Oggyland to Oggyland
and we'll all go back to Oggyland
Where they can't tell sugar from tissue paper tissue paper
Marmalade and jam

Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi
Oggy, Oi Oggy, Oi
Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi

I hope this satisfies the lady in the West Cornwall Pasty Company, and

Long live The Bodmin Moor Pasty Club!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Jewel in Hampshire's Crown

We set off to visit our friends in Hampshire at 09-30, with our first stop being on Osmington Hill to take a look at the White Horse. The poor condition of the earthwork and the misty/rainy atmosphere made for a less than satisfactory view, but it was a new Dorset sight for Ille and worth taking a photo.

The White Horse at Osmington, Weymouth. The legend goes that a local shepherd wanting to celebrate the arrival of King George III in Weymouth, took it upon himself to climb the hill and etch a chalk depiction of the monarch on horseback. having completed the task, he walk into Weymouth to admire his handy-work only to discover he had the King riding 'OUT' of town rather than 'IN' and in a distraught state when and hung himself.

From there we visited Oakers Wood for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and 3 watercress beds in the hope of Green Sandpiper, all without result. So, it was then time to get a species or two on the 'year list' via a visit to Blashford Lakes. This has to be one of the great nature successes in southern England and always guaranteed to produce a diverse selection of birds.

Welcome to Blashford Lakes

England in the Spring

Ille at Blashford

Apart from the stunning early spring scenery, punctuated with Daffodils, Violets and Primroses, there were still plenty of birds taking advantage of the feeders, while on the water there were several species of wildfowl. The additions included, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Little Ringed Plover, Red-necked Grebe and Little Gull while c4 Black-necked Grebe, displaying Goldeneye, a male Merlin, plenty of Chiffchaff, solo singing Willow Warbler and Blackcap, c2 Greylag Geese and both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A selection of common birds at Blashford Lakes today

Brambling, there was a pristine male in attendance but far too quick for me.

Siskin left in company with 2 Lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll



Song Thrush

male Chaffinch

female Chaffinch

thought to be a male Little Ringed Plover

thought to be a female Little Ringed Plover

The 'Year List' now stands at 134

Monday, 29 March 2010

Bon Appetit With the Moxom's

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Another quiet bird day in our locale, but Goldfinch and Wren were predominant in the cemetery where Blackbird, Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow are busying themselves nest building. A / the Great Spotted Woodpecker was still in the area, albeit on the Radipole Reserve today, but there is still hope that they may set up home this side of the bye-pass. In addition to the GSW a Sparrowhawk was hunting over the reed beds, where a lone Swallow and c7 Sand Martin looked likely new arrivals. A couple of Chiffchaff and a single were the only other migrants found, but it is always good value to watch the likes of Moorhen, fanning their white tails, trying to attract the ladies. Arriving at the Westham sluices we were glad to see the underpass as the heavens opened and heavy rain persisted for 20 minutes, then seizing the moment we made a brisk walk for home.


Great Black-backed Gull, 2 adults and a juvenile left.

Ille looking delighted after her look inside the Visitor's Centre.

Having collected a hire car up at 17-00 we were able to pick Nick up and together drive to Don & Liz's house for dinner. Only having taken over the house in the last year their hard and determined work has converted the old village shop into what must be the archetypal Dorset Bed & Breakfast, advert to follow. We sat down to a delicious antipasti, followed by quiche, home grown potatoes, coleslaw and salad. To finish there was creme brulee with Calvados and a fine French Brie plus some great conversation and anecdotes.

Nick & Caroline Tomlinson, left Liz and Don Moxom, Ille, Toby (the white dog) and I've forgotten the name of the black one. I of course am taking the photograph.

Being the only non-dog lover in the company, as is usual this is where Toby spent the full extent of the dinner, right between my feet.

'Dippers' is a large and spacious family home, standing in the picturesque West Dorset village of Uploaders, catering for the Bed & Breakfast trade. With a **** rating it has obviously impressed the inspection team, and this being my first visit I would happily become a customer despite Don & Liz being long standing, firm friends.

With limited facilities, this was the best I could do for a photograph of one of the 3 bedrooms, but go and see for yourself I feel sure you'll be both impressed and well care for!

Contact can be made at Liz and Don Moxom
42 Uploaders
Dorset - DT6 4PE
Tele: 01308 485504 Mob 07855344121

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A Little Short On the Music Scene

The sky was overcast and the wind light this morning with a chorus of bird song coming from the cemetery. Above it all we could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker very likely prospecting a nest site, or attempting to attract a mate and having bred here in the past there's every chance they will do so again. Grey Squirrels were also active and in good numbers, otherwise it was the usual fare. Over at Radipole the only sign of migration were a few Chiffchaff and a lone Willow Warbler singing, as c3 Common Buzzard soared overhead. The bonus came by way of another, much closer, look at the Alpine Swift which was still flying over the Jubilee Sidings but never close enough for a photograph.

Grey Squirrel

male Teal and Common Snipe

After that we decided to switch to Grockle mode allowing Ille a chance to look around the shops and visit some of the sights of Weymouth. We ended the morning with a pint in The Swan before heading home for lunch.

Ille at the statue of King George III

Ille on KGIII's Bathing Machine

At 19-00 we made our way to No6 on King's Street hoping to catch the back end of Peter Smith's first venture into 'Live Jazz', but were just a little too late. We did however get chance to chat to a few of the musicians before we left for what was advertised as a 19-00 gig by Mockingbird at the Park Hotel, but this had been delayed until 20-30 inspiring us to return home.

and a few more shots from last nights Christmas Party


The Grandfather

Lee the Senior Grandson

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A Scarce Bird By the Skin of Our Teeth

We have been trying to get to Portland, and more particularly the Bird Observatory, since Ille's arrival but each time failing at the final hurdle. On the first 2 occasions it was the rain that put paid to our visit, but today it was something far more important. As our bus pulled away from Debenham's in Weymouth, I received a text which read "Alpine Swift flying over Aldi / Radipole", so, with a little quick thinking we got off, walked to the other side of the road and caught the next bus back. During that short journey, I wracked my brain as to where Aldi (a supermarket I think) and came to the conclusion it was half way along Dorchester Road. Knowing how wide ranging any Swift can be it was not beyond possibility that it had been seen at both sites, so we set of to catch the Dorchester bus. Re-checking the location on the way, it was confirmed the said shop is at Jubilee Sidings, so back we walked. At the railway Station I scanned the sky only to find a circling Sparrowhawk which certainly wasn't going to help matters. As we reached the suggested spot I was lucky to pick it up immediately, but unlike the photograph below, it was about 10 miles high.

An excellent photograph of Alpine Swift 'borrowed' from the Internet.

After all that excitement, there was only time to visit Ferry Bridge where we recorded just 2 species, Carrion Crow and Sandwich Tern, the latter being our second 'year tick' of the day, after which we had to return home to get ready for this evenings dinner party.

The c2 Sandwich Terns at Ferry Bridge today, a poor shot at quite a distance.

An image from the archive showing a better representation.

Back at base we found my neighbour, recently returned from a short holiday, brandishing a bottle of wine and a few tab-nabs which we were happy to help her polish off. With a few stories of the Cotswolds and getting her up to speed with our exploits.

Me, Anne & Bob Clark, Ille, Julie, Lee and Nigel

One thing about having grown up children and being a traveller is, when you go away for the festive season they do you a Christmas dinner when you get back. This evening, Ille and I plus a couple of friends all met up at Nigel, Julie and Lee's house for that dinner. It was a traditional affair, very much liked by Ille, who was able to compare with the Estonian version, including turkey, crackers, silly hats and even a Christmas pudding. So, I'll leave you with a traditional greeting - Merry Christmas!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Oh Such A Perfect Day, I'm Glad I Spent It With You!

It was an early bath for both of us this morning as we caught the 08-50 to one of Great Britain real jewels, the city of Bath. I don't remember the last time I saw a child let loose in a sweet shop, but to watch Ille as we started down the High Street was just what you would expect. She took to the town right away, admiring both the modern shop, restaurants etc and the history stretching back well before the Romans were even thought of.

Our first stop was The Pump house, which was thought of by the Romans, which probably brought domestic bathing to the populous of Great Britain. The adjoining King's and Queen's Baths have been patronised by a succession of British monarchs, and today overborne by an endless stream of visitors from all points of the globe.

Next, Bath Abbey which i always consider pivotal for all of the cities magnificent architecture.

After the Abbey we walked around The Circus, which brought back a few memories of my antique collecting days. This was always the place I stayed when in search of a bargain piece of Imari or Satsuma porcelain.

One of many Aladdin's Caves for Ille.

The Royal Crescent is a residential road of 30 houses, laid out in a magnificent arc, which I consider the centre and highlight of the city. Designed by the architect (namesake of my childhood friend in Melton Mowbrey) John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and is a grade I listed building. The houses have been home to various notable people for over 200 years, and while changes have been made to the interiors, the facade remains much as it was when it was built.

At 13-00 we arrived at the 'Loch Fyne' restaurant which I have visited on a number of occasions, and know to be reliable for an excellent meal. Much of the produce is sourced from the Loch, and today we were not to be disappointed. Both deciding on the same, we started with Loch 'rope grown' Mussels, followed by Hake from the same area. These we ate with an Argentinian (Mendoza) Pinot Grig (that's how they spell it), while the Chocolate Orange Tort was adequately complimented with a lartge Jamison's Irish Whisky.

While we haven't succumbed to the temptations of advertising on this Blog, I do fully recommend anyone planing a visit to give this establishment a try.

After lunch, just 100 yards down the road we came across 'King Porter Stomp' a Scar cum Blue Beat band from Brighton. If there's one thing to guarantee perfect digestion, it's a little dancing in the street, we took no second asking!

No visit to Bath would be complete without a visit to Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon. Completed in 1773 from a design by Robert Adam, it is one of only 4 such bridges in the world with shops on both sides of its full span. The structure was named after Frances Pulteney heiress of 1767.

The forecasters had promised some rain for all areas but the weather stayed kind to us throughout with the only downpour occurring around Yeovil while we were in the sanctuary of the train. I'm told this is a day Ille will never forget. I could tell by her overall reaction and the number of postcards she bought that a note had been struck.